Reviewing Romney-Obama debate No. 1
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 23:10
Last night, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met at the University of Denver for the first presidential debate of the 2012 election year. Moderated by Jim Lehrer, his 12th debate since 1988, both candidates were given their chance to challenge one another on domestic policy issues. While 96 percent of citizens have already pledged allegiance to one political party and know who they will be voting for in November, for the undecided voters in the nation, particularly in Colorado, the state that the debate is held and a likely swing-state, this was an important night. Because this debate was such a huge factor in the election, and since I’m such a fan of the art of debate, I decided to review the candidates’ performance last night.
OBAMA: Barack Obama continued to showcase his amazing talent to talk endlessly about George W. Bush without actually mentioning his name. It isn’t that bad that Obama made his campaign about how much of a bad situation he inherited from his predecessor. However, last night he made it clear that blaming Mr. Bush is a staple in his presidential campaign. He continued to talk about how difficult it was for him to make good on his 2008 promises because of what he inherited.
I have to ask: since when was being the president of the United States an “’A’ for effort” kind of job? I’m sick of Obama’s basic argument for the failures of his administration to make good on his campaign promises being to blame the past administration. Someone should tell the president that he’s failed at the job we elected him for and if he keeps making excuses he will be fired.
The president did, however, make up some ground on healthcare. Say what you want about it, the president carried himself a bit better than Romney on this issue. The main reason for this seemed to be that the president had Obamacare outlined already for the American people. The burden of proof was on Romney and, unfortunately, he was only able to say “give it to the states and let them follow Massachusetts.”
The burden of proof is an important thing in a debate and Romney’s healthcare plan was burdened with not being in a position to have anything but a theory behind it while Obamacare had an outlined program. The president knew this and capitalized on it quite well.
ROMNEY: Mitt Romney was the most impressive debater that the Republican Party has had since Ronald Regan. The Bushes were notoriously poor public speakers and John McCain was far too polite and moderate to really lay out the issues and call President Obama on every accusation that he made. This wasn’t the case for Romney. As many people probably noticed, the governor of Massachusetts spent a lot of time counting during his speeches. I was pleased to see this because it was indicative of a skilled debater. Each time the president attacked his policies or repeated something that Romney had already refuted (a common and skillful tactic to discredit an adequate response) the governor was ready to defend himself and refute the issues one by one – hence the constant listing. While, president Obama seemed prepared to be held accountable for each facet of his attacks, it was clear he wasn’t expecting to be challenged quite so heavily.
Romney turned the tables on the president, making him seem like the one out of touch with the middle class and not him, as the Obama Campaign has vigorously stated over the past 18 months. He leaned hard on the fact that the middle class is hurting under the current administration.
Despite Romney’s skill as a debater, however, he lost ground on the healthcare debate because he allowed several questions to go unanswered. This allowed the president to stack them one on top of the other in an attack that, given the already stretched time limit, Romney wasn’t able to answer one by one.
Romney did catch a bit of flack on Twitter and Faebook for steamrolling through the moderator’s time limits. The president was guilty of this as well, however he wasn’t nearly as blatant. Romney came off as combative. I do have to say though; Lehrer is a big boy and a time-tested debate moderator. He has thick enough skin and brains enough to know that the debate is not about him or his wonderful two-minute structure – it’s about the candidates and them holding each other accountable for their views in real time.